Ex-NEA officer jailed for tipping off brother on surprise inspection

Former National Environmental Agency officer Muhammad Alhaffif Mohamad Saifuddin (left), 28, was sentenced to 2 weeks' jail and his brother Muhammad Ramadan Mohamad Saifuddin, 25, was fined $1,000 for the tip-off that a surprise inspection would take
Former National Environmental Agency officer Muhammad Alhaffif Mohamad Saifuddin (left), 28, was sentenced to 2 weeks' jail and his brother Muhammad Ramadan Mohamad Saifuddin, 25, was fined $1,000 for the tip-off that a surprise inspection would take place in the Arab Street area. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI 

SINGAPORE - A former environmental health officer who tipped off his younger brother that a surprise inspection would be carried out in the Arab Street area was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Wednesday.

Muhammad Alhaffif Mohamad Saifuddin, 28, was allowed to defer sentence until July 2.

His younger brother, Muhammad Ramadan, 25, was fined $1,500 for communicating the information which he was not authorised to receive to a restaurant owner.

Both brothers had pleaded guilty to their respective charges under the Official Secrets Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Haniza Abnass had told the court that sometime in 2011, Mr Ameen Ali Salim Talib, 52, owner of Cafe Le Caire, came to know Alhaffif when he went to apply for a licence to carry out an extension of the restaurant in Arab Street.

As he had no floor plan, Alhaffif recommended Ramadan's services but did not tell him that Ramadan was his younger brother.

Mr Ameen contacted Ramadan and engaged him to do up floor plans for a fee. The application was eventually rejected as certain renovation work was required.

Ms Haniza said in February 2012, Alhaffif came to know that officers from the hygiene department, Central Regional Office of the NEA, would be conducting a surprise check at on Feb 8 at Bali Road in Arab Street, and the surrounding areas.

The inspection which Alhaffif was also involved in was an enforcement round against smoking violations.

Alhaffif was prohibited from revealing the information to third-parties who were not officers from the NEA.

On Feb 8, when Alhaffif met his brother for dinner, he told Ramadan about the inspection.

Alhaffif asked about the status of the floor plans for Mr Ameen's restaurant. When Alhaffif learnt that the restaurant had not been issued a licence to sell food, he told Ramadan to advise Mr Ameen not to sell food and drinks at areas which had not been licensed.

Ramadan later communicated the information to Mr Ameen via text message.

The restaurant was inspected by NEA that night. Mr Ameen later revealed that he had been tipped off about the NEA inspection.

Both brothers could have been fined up to $2,000 and jailed for up to two years.